The European Commission has backed end-of-waste criteria for glass but failed to agree separate regulations for paper and copper.
Members of the Commission’s Technical Adaptation Committee (TAC) ruled that glass cullet had to be of a high enough quality that it could be used for remelting into certain materials including fibreglass.
But members decided that cullet used in aggregates does not qualify as a new product or secondary raw material and would still be considered as waste. The vote has to be ratified by the European Parliament, after which Defra will be required to transpose the decision into national law within six months.
Nothing was agreed on copper scrap because it was felt that a quality criterion of less than 2% of total amount of foreign materials was too stringent. It was also felt that visual inspection of consignments of copper scrap was not appropriate for detecting foreign materials.
For recovered paper, there was concern at references to used beverage cartons in the draft proposal because they can contain up to 25% of non-paper materials (mainly plastic and aluminium). Members felt there are currently insufficient facilities to process such materials.
Because the TAC was divided on end-of-waste regulations for paper and copper, they have been passed to the European Council for resolution.
Rebecca Cocking, head of container affairs at British Glass, worked with the commission’s Joint Research Centre (JCR) on the glass criteria. She said she was pleased those recommendations had been accepted.
She said: “What the commission adopted is an end-of-waste specification set based on remelt, which means it is focused on greater environmental benefit.
“The JRC decided to set fibreglass as the minimum level we have to achieve. We are pleased as it also supports what Defra has put forward with regards to reducing the amount of glass sent to aggregates.”
Cocking pointed out that it could be several weeks before Defra was asked to consider transposing the recommendations into national law and they were unlikely to take effect until Spring 2013
She said a crucial question was whether material not given end-of-waste status would be able to count as recycled: “If it always remains waste how can it be recycled? That is something for Defra’s legal department.”
A source within the sector said the TAC ruling “could be the beginning of the end of aggregates qualifying as recycling”.